When you hear the word depression, the first things that come to your mind are loss and sadness, but a lot of people do not know what depression is and what steps to take if you are suffering from it. Either this comes as a result of ignorance or prejudice about depression. It has been made into a taboo topic that nobody wants to talk about, and as a result, the people suffering from it feel the need to hide it and suppress it, which only makes their condition even worse. So in this blog, we are going to talk about depression and make an effort to educate ourselves on what it means, its symptoms, causes, and risk factors, and how we can make an educated and informed decision when it comes to treating it.
What is depression?
Depression or major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest in many activities that you used to enjoy. It has been known to alter the way you feel, behave, and think. It can also be the cause of various physical and emotional issues. First and foremost, we need to treat depression as a disease and not something that you can ‘shake’ or ‘snap out of’. It requires treatment just like any other disease. You would not ask a person suffering from heart failure to just snap out of it, so we have to give the same consideration to people suffering from depression.
India is one of the top countries for people suffering from mental health disorders. The National Mental Health Survey 2016 found that close to 14 percent of India's population required active mental health interventions. Every year, about 2,00,000 Indians take their lives.
It is known that roughly 38 million Indians suffer from various anxiety disorders and around 56 million people suffer from depression. These statistics are enough to scare anybody; they call for action toward better mental healthcare being made available to every citizen of our country. The past few years have been incredibly hard on everybody; with the pandemic and climatic changes, it has not been easy for people facing mental health struggles. It has even triggered a lot of mental health issues in previously healthy people. The road to healing from depression is long and tiresome for an individual to travel alone, but the support from their loved ones and family can make it tremendously easier. Let's discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment for depression in detail.
If you feel like you have any symptoms that indicate major depressive disorder or clinical depression, then you need to see professional mental healthcare professional. A doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and your family history. They might ask you to undergo some medical tests to rule out any other conditions responsible for your symptoms. Once that is completed, they can give you a precise diagnosis and help you develop a treatment plan that works best for you. It is essential to take that first step to see a doctor because depression is often ignored because of the stigma or prejudices about it. It can prove to be fatal sometimes if it is left untreated.
Signs and symptoms of Depression
It is imperative to educate yourself about the symptoms of depression even if you do not feel like you are suffering from it because it might just help you identify these signs in a loved one or a family member and get them the help they need on time. Some of these symptoms can mask themselves as being tired or moody, but you need to look closely and be vigilant.
Loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, or sudden weight gain
Disturbed sleep schedule
Even though there is no specific cause for depression, scientists have researched and concluded that these causes could play a vital role in developing depression in a person.
Hormonal imbalance in the body can result in causing or triggering major depressive disorder or clinical depression. It can be caused due to various conditions, including postpartum, pregnancy, menopause, thyroid imbalance, etc.
Naturally occurring brain chemicals such as neurotransmitters play a vital role in causing depression in some cases. Based on research, scientists have concluded that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
It is seen in some cases with people suffering from depression; doctors notice that they have some physical abnormalities in their brains. It is unknown how important these changes are in causing depression, but they can certainly be considered a causing factor.
After significant research, researchers found that depression is common in people with a history of mental health disorders in their families. Scientists are still trying the isolate and find the gene that could be responsible for causing depression and develop a sure cure for depression soon.
What are the risk factors of Depression?
Self-medicating with alcohol or other harmful substances can trigger for causing depression. It can also lead to various other physical illnesses like liver failure, high blood pressure, etc.
Traumatic events like an accident, near-death experience, loss of a family member, or chronic illnesses can be significant causes of depression. It is simple to fall into the clutches of depression when you're emotionally vulnerable after a traumatic event.
According to recent studies, it's a known fact that people with a history of mental health disorders in their families have a higher chance of suffering from depression than those who don't.
Low self-confidence and loss of self-esteem can be among the most critical risk factors for triggering depression, especially in teenagers and young adults. Not being raised in a supportive environment can cause them to be isolated.
Many chronic illnesses like cancer or end-stage heart failure can be leading risk factors for depression. The treatment for these illnesses can be very depressing and have deprecating physical side effects, which make it very difficult to enjoy life and find things to keep happy.
It is crucial to seek help from professional mental healthcare doctors or psychiatrists. Once you have a precise diagnosis, a doctor can help you develop a treatment plan that works best for you, accommodates your symptoms, and help you get back to your everyday life. There are various treatments for depression, typically including psychotherapy and medication or drug therapy.
Drug therapy is used for treating symptoms resulting from problems in brain circuits that are responsible for regulating behavior, thought processes, and mood. Drug therapy includes various antidepressants like SSRI, SSNI, TCA, etc. their motive is to treat depression with medicine by altering the brain chemistry and increasing the level of serotonin n the brain, which is the hormone responsible for making you feel good and happy.
It is an essential part of the treatment process for depression. Sometimes people with mild symptoms do not even need drug therapy, and they can be treated entirely with the help of psychotherapy. In more severe cases, it is used alongside drug therapy for the best results. There are three types of psychotherapies that are commonly used for treating depression.
You can make specific changes in your daily lifestyle while suffering from depression to make yourself feel better without using any medicines or any form of therapy. Some of these lifestyle changes include:
Depression is a battle that you don't have to fight alone; even when it feels like you are all alone, there are a lot of people who care about you and who you can ask for help. Do not suffer alone. We have talked about all the symptoms associated with depression, and if you feel like you have them or someone you know is suffering from them, you need to ask for help or get them help. There should be no hesitation when it comes to seeking help, especially if you are having thoughts about harming yourself; seek help immediately. Professionals available twenty-four-seven are willing to help you work through your emotions. You cant prevent depression from happening, it is not in your hands. You can take specific preventive measures like reaching out to family and reducing or eliminating things that increase your stress levels.
Developing and following a treatment plan that works for you and accommodates your every symptom is your best chance at fighting this disease and getting back some semblance of everyday life. It will be a difficult journey, but if you ask for help at the first sign of depression, it s going to make a huge difference. With our world's state and the society we live in, it can be tough to put yourself first and accept that you're suffering from a disease like depression. You need to break that barrier, put yourself first and start taking care of your mental health first and foremost. Don't be afraid to take that first step. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and look for signs if somebody is asking for help with their actions; it can be tough to voice our emotions sometimes. Be patient with yourself.